I noticed a police car in the line of cars behind me but paid it no mind, as I was riding appropriately. Turning into a section of main road and dual carriageway, I was seated again and cruising well within the speed limit in lane one. The police car pulled up alongside and signalled me to pull over.
The officer then asked the usual questions and said he had noted I was standing on the pegs and this was dangerous, as the bike was not under full control. I tried explaining that it was under control, as he had witnessed me steering, altering speed and changing gear, all safely and the bike was designed for it.
Unfortunately, he was having none of it and insisted it was unsafe to ride standing. I felt discretion was the best course so apologised and promised not to do it again. However, it got me thinking; what is the position legally about standing on the pegs? I have had a quick flick through my Highway Code and the IAM books but they do not cover the topic directly.
As a preliminary point, you did nothing wrong but more importantly, you played the police officer absolutely correctly. I would not have been quick to promise that I would not stand on the pegs again but other than that, despite him being wrong, you played it right.
You could have challenged him to write you up, argued it in front of the magistrates, taken the risk of having a bench of magistrates that simply believe what the police officer told them – but it would have been a costly way to prove a point, because going to law can be more expensive than wrongly ingested humble pie.
However, the fact remains that the police officer was wrong. You had full use of all the controls on your machine. Your balance was wholly unaffected. The police officer used the word ‘dangerous’. In order to make dangerous driving, your riding would have to fall far below the standards of a reasonably prudent and competent driver/rider.
The only possibilities were potentially driving without due care or superficially. Section 41(d) of the 1988 Road Traffic Act. which is a piece of legislation designed to prosecute people who sit so low that they cannot see the road ahead.
While you were unable to use your mirrors when stood up on the pegs, the law is clear that you may not interfere with your forward vision, but not your rear vision. I defended a due-care case on exactly the same facts many years ago. The rider was on a BMW R1150GS and he stood up on the pegs, for no particular reason. This annoyed a police officer in an unmarked car who lit him up and pulled him over. The motorcyclist stood his ground and invited the police officer to write him up because he simply would not accept the ‘words of advice’ from the police officer.
The police officer, who had no expertise in motorcycles, had a horrible time under cross-examination. I read evidence from an international-standard enduro rider on the safety of standing up. The magistrates scolded the officer for wasting everyone’s time and awarded my client his entire defence costs. However, that was back in the days when the magistrates could award the full costs of a defence and if you defended an action successfully, you would not end up out of pocket.
This has now changed. The magistrates are only entitled to award you what your costs under legal aid would have been, but it would not be available for a minor road traffic offence. At best, you would get back two-thirds of your legal fees (in the event of an almost-certain acquittal). So while the police officer was wrong, proving yourself right would have been very expensive.
RiDE Magazine December 2017